Kottayam to be declared as tobacco free district soon

September 23rd, 2008 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 23 (IANS) Kottayam in Kerala will be the first region in the country to be declared a tobacco free district, a top official said Tuesday.This would be declared in the next few days, before the ban on smoking becomes effective Oct 2 in all public places, Kerala Health Secretary Vishwas Mehta told reporters here.

The district, having a population of 2.8 million people, had also created history in the eighties when it was declared a 100 per cent literate area.

“We have taken help of school children in this campaign and it will take time before the new rules become effective. We just can’t enforce this by using the police alone. There has to be a sustained campaign from the society,” Mehta said.

He said authorised officials would impose fine on people who violate the law. Mehta had inaugurated a meeting on new tobacco control legislation in the state in the wake of the new rules that the central government has framed on banning smoking in public places.

Making Kottayam district a tobacco free area does not mean that no tobacco products would be sold or none will smoke in the district, Benjamin George, Kottayam district medical officer, told IANS.

“To make this effective, we have been working for the past 18 months and the district administration has by now issued three different sets of orders to all government and private establishments that none should smoke in public,” he said.

George said a school helpline has also been set up to enable any student or teacher to call and report against those using tobacco products in public. Action would be taken against the guilty, he added.

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